How family members can help after a stroke?
Photo by Anna Shvets
A stroke is a medical emergency that impacts the brain, cognition, and motor function. While strokes are common in older people, they can also happen to anyone at any age. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your loved one recover more quickly from a stroke. Following are several ways you can help your loved ones recover from a stroke so they can regain their independence as quickly as possible.
Although you do want to assist your loved ones with tasks that are beyond their capacity, you don’t want to take over tasks that they can safely accomplish on their own. Stroke victims often lose strength and mobility in their arms, legs, and other parts of their body, making tasks that were once quite simple extremely difficult. However, with practice, they can gain quite a bit of mobility back by practicing over time. Encourage your loved ones to try to complete tasks they once did that require the use of their fine motor skills. By offering gentle support and encouragement you can help your loved one regain functionality and independence.
Participate in rehabilitation
Physical rehabilitation is a critical component of a stroke victim’s treatment plan. Successful stroke recovery often depends on whether or not the victim complies with their physician’s orders. If your family member seems unwilling or unlikely to comply with rehabilitation exercises, consider attending sessions with them so you can ensure they are sticking with the program. If you aren’t able to attend every session then it may be a good idea to have several friends and family members willing to attend on a rotating basis.
Watch for changes in their mental health
While the outward signs and symptoms of a stroke are readily apparent, there can also be lasting changes to their mental health too. Having a stroke is a life-altering event, and can significantly impact a person’s quality of life. Even those who suffer from more mild or moderate strokes can be adversely affected psychologically. Look out for any changes to your loved one’s mood. Some of the most significant changes to look out for include prolonged depression, anxiety, loss of interest in hobbies, and change of appetite. If you notice these signs, speak to your loved ones about them and encourage them to seek help if necessary.
Provide emotional support
Many stroke victims experience bouts of loneliness after the event. A stroke can significantly change a person’s lifestyle which can be particularly difficult for those who lead active social lives. While they may no longer be able to do everything they once used to, try to help them focus on what they are able to do and provide them with emotional support. Keep them as active as possible and encourage them to get out often. Emotional support can be a powerful tool in your loved one’s recovery tool kit.
Create solutions for communication barriers
One of the most common consequences for stroke victims is loss of communication. This may be as simple as a mild speech impediment or as severe as total communication loss due to paralysis and cognitive functioning. Try to facilitate easier communication by turning completely towards your loved ones when speaking to them. Use short, simple words and consider implementing pictures or illustrations of things, actions, or movements in conversations. By putting these measures in place you and your loved one will have an easier time communicating while also encouraging better cognitive functioning.
Help them maintain social connections
While a stroke can have a significant impact on your loved one’s social life, that doesn’t mean they have to completely stop doing the things they love. In fact, you should encourage them to maintain their connections as much as possible. Many communities offer stroke outreach programs which can often be an important way of staying social. It can also have a meaningful impact on your loved one’s recovery to be able to socialize with others who are dealing with similar circumstances.
While strokes can be a scary, life-changing event, people can successfully overcome them in many cases. Keeping these tips in mind and offering your loved ones emotional support will help them recover as much mobility and function as possible while enhancing their quality of life.